Easy-going Talley cruises into match play
PINEHURST, N.C. – The Country Club of North Carolina is thick with college coaches for stroke-play qualifying at the U.S. Girls’ Junior – 108 to be exact – and it’s a good bet that a fair amount have an eye on Emma Talley.
Talley, with her easy-going demeanor, has shown what she truly is capable of in the past few weeks. The 16-year-old remains undecided when it comes to choosing a college, and for now continues to rip apart the competition on the course – in the nicest way possible.
• Emma Talley files a weekly junior diary for Golfweek. Read this week’s entry about her 22-shot win at the AJGA Huntsville Junior.
The words to describe her 22-shot rout at last week’s AJGA Huntsville Junior, however, come a lot less easy than the birdies for Talley. She is one of the more modest players you’re likely to meet on the links, but also one of the most personable. She’s much more likely to share details about the weather, the course and her playing partners than the sheer brilliance she displayed at The Ledges Golf Course in Huntsville, Ala. And all while displaying a big grin, and talking in her thick southern accent.
Talley shot 15-under 198 (67-66-65), beating Janie Jackson – a member at The Ledges – by 22 shots. She now owns both the lowest 54-hole scoring for the girls division as well as the record for largest margin of victory in the AJGA history books. She can’t really describe the experience any other way than that she just stayed on top of her game, enjoyed the course and stayed relaxed. That, and the fact that she wanted to shoot a 61 in the final round, a number that wasn’t out of the question as she was 6 under through 15 holes.
The crowds began to build around Talley in the final round, and even though she knew the records she was chasing, she stayed calm.
“After the 15th hole it was a good birdie or eagle hole and I actually made par and I was actually 6 under at the time and I know that was my last chance (to shoot 61),” she said. “I just tried to play for par in because the last three holes are really hard there.”
Talley is well-known in the field this week for her infectious smile, and she also might be building up for another big moment in her career. Midway through the second-round of stroke-play qualifying, Talley is T-15. After an opening 3-over 75, she came back in 73 to guarantee herself a spot on the match play bracket. Match play, however, is something she has little experience with outside of a small event she plays annually back home in Kentucky, but that’s where her caddie comes in.
The husband of one of her high school teachers, Talley describes Mike Farmer as a good friend and a good golfer in his own right. He took his only full week off from work to loop for Talley this week.
Some might find it hard to rebound from the record-setting tournament Talley had last week in Huntsville, but not this girl.
“If I can just get my speed down and eliminate the bogeys, I think I’ll be in good shape” she said.
Talley might just be the next big name in the junior ranks.